AUTHOR: Star Sports Content


Last night wasn’t as sombre as anticipated, head of on-course operations Steve Brewer and I enjoyed a very civilised meal with professional punter Andy Gibson and his wife Emma. The gentle banter eased the pain of a chastening day in the ring for Steve.

By the time the teams set up the gear for today, the slate had been wiped clean, losses forgotten, everyone was looking forward to another day taking on the punters. One bookmaker, our old mate Barry The Tash Pinno, couldn’t wait to get stuck in. At 12.10 there was a 12 runner Shetland Pony race, with no form to go on our hero decided to price the race up anyway, no doubt with a cushioning margin. He appeared to be the only bookmaker to take the chance but there weren’t many takers I know you’re already guessing what happened next, but you’ll enjoy it anyway. As they were lining up a punter came to the joint and asked if benevolent Barry could do him a bit better than the miserly 4/1 he had on offer number six Merkisayre Sir Padre. He was offered 5/1, on which he invested £100. Yes, you guessed right, the subject of the £100 bet won the race, getting right up on the line. How do they know eh Barry? A bad start for the tash.

John McCririck’s widow Jenny, otherwise affectionately known as The Boobie came to say hello. She’d liked the photo of the gang of ‘Johns’ that we included in yesterday’s blog and I posted on twitter. She wanted to know where I dug it up from. When I told her that it was taken last night, she was very pleased, she’d assumed it was an archive photo from years back. No, Jenny people haven’t forgotten Big Mac and long may that continue.

1:10 – Maiden Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

It wasn’t unexpected that today was a fair bit thinner on crowd than yesterday, but you always hope there’s a punter about. Steve and unchanged team on the Tatts pitch found a couple of decent backers. The first one had a monkey on The Kemble Brewery at 4/7 then another £4000 at 8/15. Apart from those two wagers the one the public wanted to be on was Cannock Park which won the race at 15/2.

Tony and Nick had a small bets payout list longer than my arm, which admittedly is quite short but it was still a fair number of winning bets. It was still a great result to start the day though, the Tatts pitch coped £3500 on the race. Over on the rails Kyle, Hannah and Ricky only managed to field £900 but did keep £400 of it. A very welcome start to the day.

1:45 – Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 3) (4YO plus) 2m 4f

Next up and business wasn’t too bad, the rails take almost doubled on the race while Tatts once again found a couple of punters. The first one bet £700 – £200 Crebilly which was welcomed but then dwarfed by another bet of £6000 – £2000 on the same horse. Those were by far the biggest taken on the race, at the off Tatts had the bogie losing £6115 and the rails £1300.

Things were looking very ominous for the firm when the Crebilly appeared to be full of running and about to take it up jumping the second last. He cleared the obstacle perfectly then crumpled on landed flooring the big bets with it. The race went to market rival 10/3 chance Ginny’s Destiny which unsurprisingly had been the other best backed horse in the race. The Tatts book won £1385 though Kyle and co blew £300 which was a bit disappointing given how the mop flopped.

2:20 – Jewson Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 3m 3½f

Whilst it was evidently quieter on course than yesterday those people that had come were betting. Slip numbers were down about 50% on yesterday but that still wasn’t bad given the crowd size. Mind you, Star Sports do have good pitches so it might have been a different story at the other end of the line.

The third heat looked tricky, but it didn’t stop a punter betting a £10,000 – £2500 City Chief. It wasn’t a bag man, but the camera shy one from Friday was here, needless to say he’d copped yesterday, those bag men are hard to beat. The only other bet of any sort of note was £800 – £200 the same horse.

The Tatts book was a slopey one, it was similar but to a much lesser gradient over on the rails. At the off they had City Chief losing £2228 while Tatts were looking at badly listing £11,627. City Chief ran well enough for long enough to get Steve and co a bit twitchy but ultimately didn’t trouble the judge who had no trouble himself calling Gavin Cromwell’s Irish raider Malina Girl the winner. She had been a 9/1 or bigger when I jotted down the prices before lunch but returned 11/2. It appears someone somewhere quietly had it off but not with Star Sports they didn’t. The Tatts book copped £2600 and the rails £700.

2:55 – Shloer Chase (Registered As The Cheltenham Chase) (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m

Just the four in the race before the penultimate and the anticipated clash between Jonbon and Edwardstone. Whilst the team were braced for money for the odds-on the first big bet tendered was £2500 Edwardstone at 7/2.

That wager was closely followed by single bets of £1690 and £1250 on Jonbon at ‘bottle-on’ 1/2 all staked on the Tatts pitch. Over on the rails it was proving hard work where they were struggling to take much at all. As they set off the jolly was winning on both pitches, £900 in Tatts and £230 on the rails.

Jonbon won at 4/9, the punters that backed it got the value but the firm still copped, everyone’s a winner. Well, not everyone, but you know what I mean.

3:30 – Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m ½f

Quite fittingly the betting came alive for the Greatwood Hurdle. Bets included £3300 – £300 Anyharminasking, £5000 – £350 Sonigino both on the rail where Ricky and Hannah were calling them in.

Over in Tatts they laid £1000 – £150 Luccia, then back on the rails £10,000 – £800 L’Eau Du Sud, then the real business back in Tatts, £1600 – £400, £17,500 – £5000 and £535 at SP all on Onlyamatteroftime. As you can see, with all those fraction bets, come racing for value, and the lump on the jolly, across the both pitches there were some very nasty liabilities not least on the rail where Onlyamatteroftime was red for £20,000.

It was very much looking like the Gambling Gods were smiling on Star Sports for being so stoic after yesterday’s reversal. 7/1 chance Iberico Lord won the race and despite being trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville the punters didn’t want to know, at least not with Steve, Kyle and co. The rails pitch copped £2500 and Tatts £6206 on the race. Who’d have thought it on what looked like it was going to be a bit of a tame Sunday. With just the bumper to go, surely it wouldn’t be tempting fate to started snapping the elastic bands around some of the winnings.

4:00 – Turners Open NH Flat Race (Listed) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO to 5YO) 2m ½f

This is a cautionary tale. Never take the Gambling Gods for granted. There were two bets of note in the lucky last. £1000 – £400 and £25,000 – £10,000 Brechin Castle. Brechin Castle won. There you go, fate was toying with the team. A losing day, cobblers were done on the meeting after a fantastic start. That’s how it goes, what a ride. Who’d be a bookmaker?


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle 



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